Defining Moment for Howard Schools HOWARD COUNTY

March 15, 1993

The Howard County Board of Education, along with residents of the Dorsey Hall community, have a unique opportunity if they choose to grasp it.

The issue at hand is the redistricting of the Wilde Lake and Centennial high schools. We believe that any redistricting effort must include boundary changes that move Dorsey Hall out of the Centennial district and into Wilde Lake. To do less would send a TTC message that the school system is not sincere about the goal of achieving a socio-economic balance in Howard schools. We don't believe the board wants to send that message.

The fact is that Wilde Lake High School is far out of balance when it comes to the socio-economic mix of its students. No one should ignore the relatively low test scores generated at that school. Moving the Dorsey Hall community into the Wilde Lake school district would do the most to correct that imbalance.

Let us quickly add that this must not be a situation where one community benefits at the expense of another. All of the parents whose children would be affected by this change have a right to be concerned about the education program offered at Wilde Lake. The school system must address those concerns by correcting legitimate problems that have been pointed out.

But there is another issue with which the school board members must grapple. True diversity does not occur when officials shrink from social responsibility. All students would be enriched by a redistricting that has balance as a goal. Underachievers are encouraged by exposure to those with a stronger academic background. And those blessed with affluence can benefit greatly from exposure to students who are not as well off financially.

The general lack of balance at Centennial deprives those students of experiences that will better prepare them for the larger society in which they must eventually live. Change is critical, but it must be done in a way that is effective, conscientious and grounded in both the social principles and educational excellence for which Howard County has become admired.

So many families have been attracted to Howard County because of the notion that diversity thrives here. It would be a shame to soil that image by erecting walls to diversity.

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